MAUREEN DOWD. Trump Finally Makes a Friend (New York Times, 15.09.18)

The president may be shunned nearly everywhere but at the bottom of the world he has finally found a loyal mate. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

ERIN O’DONNELL, AVRIL HORNE. Giving environmental water to drought-stricken farmers sounds straightforward, but it’s a bad idea (The Conversation, 18.09.18)

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack last week suggested the government would look at changing the law to allow water to be taken from the environment and given to farmers struggling with the drought. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

MUNGO MACCALLUM. ScoMo, ProMo, Status QuoMo

We still don’t know just who or what the new Prime Minister is, but he is determined to tell us whether we like it or not. Our manic leader is seldom lost for words and this is just as well as he appears chronically short of ideas. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

DUNCAN GRAHAM. Robbing Roads To Keep Rice Cheap.

Unlike their southern neighbours, Indonesians know when they’ll go to the polls – 17 April 2019. That Wednesday will be a public holiday to encourage a big turn out.  Voting is not compulsory.

In the 2014 election 135 million electors punched a hole in a ballot paper to make their choice – around 70 per cent of those on the roll – in the world’s third largest democracy.  

Next year voters aged over 17 will get the chance to directly elect the president, 580 members of the People’s Consultative Assembly (known as the DPR) and 128 to the Regional Assembly, (DPD). 

Fifteen parties will bid for seats but there are only two rematch contestants for the top job – incumbent Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, 57, and former general Prabowo Subianto, 67, who lost his 2014 bid by just under seven per cent.

Though campaigning is not supposed to start till 13 October, jostling is well underway.  Now is the time for Australia to keep its head down; if we get dragged into the contest the collateral damage to relationships could be lasting. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 1 Comment

ROSS GITTINS. Morrison’s surplus secret: bracket creep kills the tax cuts. (SMH 15-16.9.2018)

With publication of the Parliamentary Budget Office’s report on the May budget’s medium-term projections, we now know. Short answer: by assuming loads more bracket creep between now and then.   Continue reading

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GREG BAILEY. Whereto for the LNP and the ALP. Part 2.

What about the ALP which, despite its protestation about its commitment to social justice and the social wage, has also effected neoliberal outcomes over the past three decades? Just witness its recent support to Australia becoming a member of a revised TPPT. And it has done this even in the face of objection from parts of its left wing and the remnants of the union movement. Yet the union movement itself has been corporatized with a number of high profile ex union leaders having moved into the corporate sector.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 3 Comments

DAVID STEPHENS. The Australian War Memorial admits receiving $1,271,473 over three years in donations from military and defence firms.

During Budget Estimates hearings, then Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon (NSW) asked Dr Brendan Nelson, Director of the Australian War Memorial, how much the Memorial had received in donations from military and defence firms. The answer covered the years 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 year to date, which would have been almost the full year, as the answer was posted in Hansard on 25 July 2018. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Economy | 1 Comment

NICOLE GIBSON. A Letter to Canberra from a young Australian.

“Each Australian story I’ve heard is etched on my heart, permanently shifting my views and perspectives on leadership. I pray that you also have the humility to silence the chatter in your own minds and be inspired by the people you represent.” Continue reading

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BIANCA BRIJNATH. Improving dementia awareness in Australia’s multicultural communities can mean better care for all.

Sheila holds 10 teaspoons in her hands and every time the cooker whistles, she puts one down.  After 10 whistles, she switches the cooker off. The rice is done. She takes down two pots and prepares one of the five vegetable dishes she remembers. When dinner arrives at the table, there are two places set for five people but she is resolute about particular people being assigned particular plates. There is to be no intermingling or sharing of plates; everyone must know their plate and place at this table.   Continue reading

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JIEH-YUNG LO. Reflections of a Chinese-Australian.

To ensure we remain as the world’s most successful multicultural society, it is important to get the China debate right from now on to prevent the re-emergence of sinophobia in Australia.  Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 2 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. Failed leadership in church and state. Repost from 24 August 2018

Good leadership is about facing the group up to the hard issues. Without clearly defining why and how we need to change and creating  some disequilibrium there will be no worthwhile change. 

In the AFR on September 14 2018 Laura Tingle asked ‘What makes a good leader?’.That article makes a similar case to the one I outlined on 24 August 2018. See below. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 4 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM. Turnbull lets fly.

Unlike Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull did not hang around in parliament, which must be a major relief for Scott Morrison – one baleful ex-prime minister glowering from the backbench is more than enough. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

JAMES FERNYHOUGH. Ten years on, there’s just one positive legacy of the Global Financial Crisis.

“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.” Continue reading

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TAMSIN SHAW. Edward Snowden Reconsidered (New York Review of Books Daily 13.09.18)

This summer, the fifth anniversary of Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance passed quietly, adrift on a tide of news that now daily sweeps the ground from under our feet. It has been a long five years, and not a period marked by increased understanding, transparency, or control of our personal data. In these years, we’ve learned much more about how Big Tech was not only sharing data with the NSA but collecting vast troves of information about us for its own purposes. And we’ve started to see the strategic ends to which Big Data can be put. In that sense, we’re only beginning to comprehend the full significance of Snowden’s disclosures. Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights | 2 Comments

BRUCE DUNCAN. Scott Morrison, the ‘prosperity gospel’ and neoliberalism.

Sounding surprisingly like an evangelical revivalist, Prime Minister Morrison in Albury on 6 September highlighted the need for love in our country, for every Australian, and that this set the value base for his own thinking and presumably for policies of his government. No one in Albury objected to the ideal of love of neighbour, but it sounded a bit odd when people were expecting a significant statement about changed policies of his government after the leadership bloodletting. Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Religion and Faith | 2 Comments

GREG BAILEY. Whereto for the LNP and the ALP. Part 1.

Australian politics as judged by the antics of the two major parties over the past three weeks is almost a (hyper-) reality television show, replete with microscopic media coverage of the principal personalities involved. Building up for many years this has implications for the survival of these parties, but disappear they certainly will not. The task for long-term survival is certainly before the LNP, whereas for the ALP the prospects seem brighter. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

KIM WINGEREI. The responsibility of free speech.

I don’t like what Steve Bannon has to say. I find Nigel Farrage’s attempts at shrouding his anti-immigration messages in “Judeo-Christian values” abhorrent. But I am also quite certain that neither pose more nor less of a threat to Australia than Chelsea Manning does. The idea of picking and choosing who gets to speak is what we should be afraid of.  Continue reading

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HYLDA ROLFE. Protection v exploitation – Uncertain outlook for National Parks in New South Wales

A common framework for crime fiction builds on the notion of a heavy character leaning on target persons in order to ‘encourage’ them to fund the provision of protection from even heavier characters.  Hoping for security, the targets oblige and meet more and more demands, until at last they baulk.  So then the heavies appear with some attendant thuggery, and the ‘protection’ turns out to be a bit of a myth. It was really only exploitation.   Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

FRAN BAUM and TOBY FREEMAN. Time for the reform of primary health care in Australia: a ten-point plan (Croakey, 12.09.18)

12 September)marks 40 years since the World Health Organization member countries gathered for the International Conference on Primary Health Care in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and signed off on the declaration of Alma-Ata. Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The urgent need for democratic renewal. We don’t trust the major parties

Australians are sick and tired of politicians. The community is deserting the major political parties in droves.Most recently we have seen it in Longman and Wagga.  We have lost trust in our major political parties and most particularly the Liberal and National Parties in recent months.

In the 1980s we embraced economic change and reform. It was necessary but painful for some. Today we need democratic reform and renewal. Like the 1980s, it is necessary but it will be painful for some.

After the next election we need a government that will assist us in major democratic renewal. It is urgent. We could start with a post-election summit in the same way that Prime Minister Hawke called an economic summit many years ago. We need a summit of community leaders to help chart a new course for democratic renewal.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 9 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. Beyond the political rhetoric,hard hats and akubras what do our political ‘leaders’ really believe.

Power does reveal substance.  It tells us quite quickly about the values that drive political parties and political leaders. Scare tactics are always a sure sign that the values and policy cupboard is bare. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Health, Politics | 3 Comments


A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media. Continue reading

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KIM OATES. Viewpoint: “Always say something positive about the child” (Berry Brazelton 1918-2018)

Over 40 years ago, I was fortunate to do some of my paediatric training with Berry Brazelton. He wasn’t famous then, but there was something about him that set him apart from the purely organic focus of most of the senior staff at Boston Children’s Hospital. He was interested in babies as individuals with their own sets of skills. Here was a paediatrician prepared to question the status quo about the abilities of infants and young children who based his views, not on the prevailing dogma, but on careful observation. He was the first to recognise that a baby is a highly developed human, even when just newly born. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 1 Comment

RAMESH THAKUR. Why Serena Williams owes a triple apology.

CANBERRA – Serena Williams, a deserved legend in her own lifetime, owes a public apology to Naomi Osaka, match umpire Carlos Ramos and the world’s tennis fans. She was the perpetrator, not the victim, of unprovoked abuse. Women should be among the first to recognize and condemn blame-shifting from the perpetrator to the victim. Attempts to confuse her on-court behavior with historical injustices to women and the “everyone else does it” fallacy are an aggravating, not an extenuating, circumstance. Far from advancing, her apologists damage the cause of women’s rights and racial equality. Continue reading

Posted in Sport | 4 Comments

RICHARD BUTLER. John Bolton’s speech: Hostility, misrepresentations, US self-regard.

Bolton’s authorized major speech on the International Criminal Court misrepresented it, expressed deep hostility to it, but was revealing of just how deeply entrenched in US foreign policy is the notion of US exceptionalism, under which it and Israel are immune from international law.  Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

MELISSA PARKE. Conflict in Yemen

‘I don’t want to live any more’ said the man standing in the rubble of his destroyed home. His teenage daughter beside him burst into tears and the younger daughter looked up at him, not understanding. The airstrike, in the UNESCO World heritage old city of Sana’a, had come without warning in the middle of the night killing all other members of the man’s family, leaving them homeless. They had no connection to any of the warring parties to the conflict in Yemen but were among its tens of thousands of civilian victims. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 4 Comments

JOSEPH NYE. The two sides of American exceptionalism (Project Syndicate, 5.09.18)

In July, I joined 43 other scholars of international relations in paying for a newspaper advertisement arguing that the US should preserve the current international order. The institutions that make up this order have contributed to “unprecedented levels of prosperity and the longest period in modern history without war between major powers. US leadership helped to create this system, and US leadership has long been critical for its success.” Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs, Politics | 1 Comment

TREVOR COBBOLD. Have Kids Stopped Trying on PISA and NAPLAN?

A much-ignored aspect of school results in Australia over the past decade or more is the sharp contrast between declining or stagnating scores on international and national tests for Years 9 and 10 and solid improvements in Year 12 results. How is it that trends in school outcomes only two or three Year levels apart are so different? Continue reading

Posted in Education | 2 Comments

ANTHONY PUN. History of Multiculturalism: Part 2- A decline in support of Multiculturalism from the Howard to the Rudd-Gillard Administrations.

The racial discrimination legislations flourished under Multicultural with NSW leading the pact.  A crack in Multiculturalism support emerged during the Howard Administration with the rise of Pauline Hanson and her racial politics.  It was the “ethnic” vote that saved the day and Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock worked to recapture the votes.  Multiculturalism continued under the Rudd-Gillard Administration its policy became controversial when the composition of appointees to the Australian Multicultural Council was question by the multicultural communities. The future Multiculturalism is briefly discussed.  Continue reading

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JERRY ROBERTS Whither Labor?

Stan Grant in his interesting post of 10 September asks which kind of conservatism our Prime Minister will practise.  Since we are about to commence a decade of Labor in office in Canberra a more pertinent question is what type of Labor Government will it be? Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 4 Comments